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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ex-Congressman, 80,|Going to the Slammer

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Former Oregon Congressman Wes Cooley was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for tax fraud, and ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution and back taxes.

Wester Shadric Cooley, 80, an L.A. native who lives in Bend, Ore., was sentenced Monday and ordered to pay $3.5 million in restitution to investors and $138,470 in back taxes to the IRS.

Cooley represented Oregon's 2nd Congressional District from 1995 to 1997.

He pleaded guilty in November to making $1.1 million from a $10 million investment fraud run by a former IRS agent, and failing to report $494,000 of it on his 2002 federal tax return, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

The IRS agent, George Tannous, was sentenced in March to 33 months in federal prison for conspiracy and tax fraud.

His cohort, recidivist felon De Elroy Beeler Jr., pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax fraud. He will be sentenced on Feb. 4, 2013.

Prosecutors said in the statement: "In the investment fraud scheme, former IRS revenue Agent George Tannous and convicted felon De Elroy Beeler Jr. solicited hundreds of victims across the country to purchase unregistered stock in the Tujunga-based Bidbay.com, Inc. (a company that was later known as Auctiondiner.com, Inc.) and related companies AskGT.com and Rose Laboratories. Cooley was the vice president of Bidbay and an executive of AskGT.com and Rose Laboratories. Victim-investors were enticed to put money into the companies by several false statements, including that the companies would conduct initial public offerings, and that Bidbay.com and/or the shell companies would soon be acquired by Ebay, Inc. for $20 per share. Ebay never had any intention of acquiring Bidbay.com and had even sued Bidbay.com for trademark infringement over the use of 'bay' in its name."

Cooley must report to prison by March 11, 2013.

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